Capote, 2005

During the Q&A for the film, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman commented that the inspiration behind his remarkable transformation into the character of novelist Truman Capote came from the idea of someone who needed the other person much more than the other needed him, but concealed this lopsided dependence in such a manner that the other believes the reverse. This posture provides an insightful glimpse, not only into the controversial relationship between Truman and Perry (Clifton Collins, Jr.) one of the killers of the Clutter family whose senseless murder served as the basis for his non-fiction novel In Cold Blood, but also in his self-consumption and eccentricity. From the opening sequence recreating the discovery of the bodies in the Klutter family in their Kansas farmhouse that cuts into the image of Capote transfixedly reading the article on the murder from his New York City apartment (figuratively holding the open ended resolution of their deaths in his hands), filmmaker Bennett Miller creates a sense of interconnected fatedness in this chance “encounter”, a compulsion that would propel him to visit Kansas with his childhood friend (and implicit beard) Nell Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). While I disagree with Miller’s characterization of Truman as a narcissist but rather, as an insecure outsider whose abandonment as a child led him to perpetually seek attention, the film achieves resonance into Capote’s true character (and ties into the theme of fate) in a scene in which Truman describes Perry as coming from the same house, an image of himself who left through the back door, while he left through the front.

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